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Washington, D.C. – Idaho Senators Jim Risch and Mike Crapo joined a bipartisan group of Western senators in introducing legislation to reauthorize the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program to provide long-term financial security for rural counties.

The legislation would reauthorize the PILT program for ten years. The program provides critical resources to nearly 1,900 counties across 49 states. Counties have used these payments for more than 40 years to fund law enforcement, firefighting, emergency response, and other essential county services.

“The PILT program impacts every single county in Idaho. Without PILT funding, many rural communities throughout our state and much of the West would face economic devastation,” Risch said. “Our rural communities need a lasting solution, and we owe it to them to fulfill our obligation and reauthorize PILT.”

“Idaho’s rural counties depend on PILT funding for vital functions like law enforcement, emergency response, public health and critical transportation infrastructure,” Crapo said. “The federal government does not pay local property taxes, which makes rural counties containing large swaths of federally-owned land face tough financial decisions.  Our legislation would provide much-needed stability to these counties so they can budget appropriately according to expected revenue and provide these essential services to local citizens and taxpayers.  I look forward to continue working in a bipartisan manner to end the financial uncertainty thousands of rural counties face nationwide.”

Additional sponsors of the legislation include Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.).

Earlier this year, Risch, Crapo, Wyden, and Merkley also introduced the bipartisan Forest Management for Rural Stability Act to make the Secure Rural Schools program permanent by creating an endowment fund to provide stable, increasing and reliable funding for county services.

“In 61 percent of the nation’s counties, the federal government is a major landowner. Counties provide critical services for residents and visitors in and around untaxable federal public lands, including roads, bridges, search and rescue, law enforcement and solid waste disposal. The PILT program represents the federal government’s commitment to these and many other services. This bill ensures the long-term certainty we need, instead of being susceptible to the whims of unpredictable federal funding and shifting the burden to local taxpayers and businesses. We applaud and thank Senators Wyden, Crapo, Merkley, Risch, Bennet and Gardner for working to establish a decade of stability for the PILT program. We urge Congress to fulfill its promise to public lands counties and swiftly pass this legislation,” said Matthew Chase, Executive Director of the National Association of Counties.

A copy of the bill text is available here.

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